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‘Unnecessary’ garden waste collection changes to cost taxpayer £2.5 billion – councils warn

Published: 2 July 2021

‘Unnecessary’ garden waste collection changes to cost taxpayer £2.5 billion – councils warn

 National plans to roll out a free garden waste collection service for all households across the country will cost the taxpayer £2.5 billion in just seven years, councils warn today.

Government says changes are needed to reduce the garden waste found in non-recyclable household black bins.

However, the District Councils’ Network brands the reforms “unnecessary” as its new survey finds garden waste is only a tiny proportion of rubbish in black bins.

The majority of councils – three quarters – have found that garden waste accounted for less than 5 per cent of the non-recyclable household waste.

The DCN, which represents 183 districts in England with responsibility for waste collection, is calling on the Government to scrap plans for a free country-wide garden waste collection service.

Government proposals to make collections free for everyone could mean all those people without gardens unfairly paying towards the maintenance of those that do have gardens.

The £2.5 billion bill would land on taxpayers over seven years, comprising transition to new arrangements, new running costs, new bins, more lorries and additional staff.

The plans are part of a proposed radical shake up of rubbish collections by the Government, which would see kerbside waste collections standardised so they are the same across England by 2023/4.

The DCN has previously warned that this could create the need for seven separate bins to collect the different types of waste.

Cllr Dan Humphreys, DCN lead member for enhancing quality of life, said:

“These unnecessary proposals will cost the taxpayer billions, and many households will have no need for a garden waste collection service.

“We have found that garden waste makes up a tiny proportion of overall household waste. This is not a significant issue, and does not warrant the expense, or the increased emissions from an expanded fleet, of a universal national free garden waste collection service – it’s like taking an expensive sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“Furthermore it wouldn’t be fair on the many households without gardens to have to contribute to the costs of introducing such a service. We agree with the Government’s wider focus on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and it should apply to garden waste too.

“Every place is different and councils are working positively with communities to shape and deliver the waste collection services that work for them, and that ultimately encourage a reduction in the amount of waste produced in the first place.”

Notes to editors

Government consultation – Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England – ending on Sunday 4 July

Full DCN briefing on the consultation available on request

The District Councils’ Network (DCN) is a cross-party member led network providing a single voice to 183 district councils. District councils in England deliver 86 out of 137 essential local government services to over 22 million people – 40 per cent of the population – and cover 68 per cent of the country by area. They play a key role in local communities, providing services such as building homes, collecting waste, regenerating town centres, preventing homelessness, keeping streets clean and maintaining parks.


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